PICTURE A SCIENTIST
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PICTURE A SCIENTIST chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks, and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, ranging from brutal harassment to years of subtle slights. Along the way, from cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, we encounter scientific luminaries – including social scientists, neuroscientists, and psychologists – who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable, and open to all.
PICTURE A SCIENTIST was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film’s virtual theatrical run reached 47 theaters across the USA in June 2020, and raised money for two organizations advancing women of color in STEM.
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Nancy Hopkins, Ph.D.
Nancy Hopkins is a molecular biologist and professor of biology emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is known for her research identifying genes required for early development of the zebrafish and genes that predispose adult fish to cancer, as well as for her work promoting equality of opportunity for women scientists in academia. Recently she has addressed the under-representation of women as founders and board members of biotech start-ups. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Raychelle Burks, Ph.D.
Raychelle Burks is a professor of analytical chemistry at American University in Washington, D.C. Her research focuses on developing low-cost colorimetric sensors for detecting chemicals of forensic interest, including explosives and regulated drugs. As a science communicator, Burks has appeared on the Science Channel’s Outrageous Acts of Science, the American Chemical Society’s Reactions videos, Royal Society of Chemistry podcasts, and at genre conventions such as DragonCon and GeekGirlCon. Burks was awarded the 2020 American Chemical Society Grady-Stack award for excellence in public engagement.
Jane Willenbring, Ph.D.
Jane Willenbring is a geomorphologist and associate professor of geological sciences at Stanford University, and is the director of the Stanford Cosmogenic Isotope Laboratory. Willenbring’s research examines the evolution of the Earth’s surface, especially how landscapes are affected by tectonics, climate change, and life. She is a Geological Society of America Fellow, the recipient of the Antarctica Service Medal, the National Science Foundation Career Award, and in 2020 was named one of Stanford’s future Gabilan Faculty Fellows.
Director/Producer Sharon Shattuck is an Emmy-nominated documentary film director and podcast host. Her feature debut, From This Day Forward, broadcast nationally on POV (PBS) in 2016 and was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. She’s the co-host of the podcast Conviction: American Panic from Gimlet/Spotify, and the co-creator of the New York Times Op-Docs science series ‘Animated Life.’ Her work has appeared on PBS, National Geographic Channel, Netflix, Slate, Vice, The New York Times, The Atlantic, ProPublica, Spotify, and Radiolab. She has degrees in forest ecology and journalism.
Director/Producer Ian Cheney is an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning documentary filmmaker. He has completed nine feature documentaries, including King Corn (2007), The Greening of Southie (2008), The City Dark (2011), The Search for General Tso (2014), Bluespace (2015), The Most Unknown (2018), Picture Character (2019) and Thirteen Ways (2019). His films have premiered at film festivals and theaters worldwide and been released on Netflix, PBS, The Sundance Channel, VICE Media, and other networks. A former Macdowell fellow and Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT, he lives in Maine.
Producer Manette Pottle is a documentary film producer. Her first feature film, Behold The Earth, with director David Conover, frames a multi-generational conversation between science and religion about the fate of our planet, and is distributed theatrically by Aspiration Entertainment. She has also produced over a hundred short films for travel and lifestyle platforms. Prior to film production, she produced the Camden International Film Festival, a documentary film festival in Camden, Maine.
Principal funding for the film was provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation.
Major funding for the film was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Additional funding was provided by Nancy Blachman, Anonymous, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program with support from Sandbox Films, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Wonder Collaborative, Chicken & Egg Pictures, The Educational Foundation of America, Erica Brand and Adam Brand, The Benevity Community Impact Fund, Mar Hershenson, Kate Korsh, and Jennifer Kane.
“Quietly devastating.” – THE BOSTON GLOBE
“Sweeping in scope yet intimately compelling.” – SCIENCE
“It might be a while before we instinctively picture a scientist as a woman. Still, this attractive, solidly-made documentary helps lead the way.” – VARIETY
“The film documents a reckoning both within the field and in our own brains with its fascinating and frightening examination of bias.” – WGBH
“Through three women scientists at different stages in their careers, including biologist Nancy Hopkins who spearheaded MIT’s report, the new documentary ‘Picture a Scientist’ combines poignant, firsthand recollections of sexist and racist treatment with indisputable current data.” – THE ARTERY, WBUR
“By the end of the movie, we are all forced to confront our own inner prejudices and to accept that the only way forward towards equality is through transparency and data.” – HAMMER TO NAIL
“Picture a Scientist is the documentary we need to continue the call for action, to continue awareness, and to remind those who would abuse a system, we see you.” – FILM INQUIRY
“While ‘Picture a Scientist’ arrives at a time when the floodgates have opened for films detailing sexism and harassment in a variety of professions as a result of the #metoo movement, leave it to filmmakers Sharon Shattuck and Ian Cheney to stand out by following the lead of their subjects in taking a measured approach to the problem that identifies the root causes and traces its effects so insightfully.” – MOVEABLE FEST
“This is a crucial piece of viewing that helps us to understand the extent of issues that many may not even know exist.” – THE UPCOMING
What I Learned About the Gender Gap from One Zoom Call – ONEZERO
Tull virtual film, Q&A focuses on diversity in science field – SEWICKLY HERALD
“The compelling documentary, ‘Picture a Scientist,’ which was scheduled to have its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival…is a case study of three women in STEM professions that seek gender equality, visibility, and diversity in the discipline.” – SALON
“insightful, informative, inspirational, poignant, candid” – SunThisWeek
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